July is coming to an end, and that means that Major League Baseball is being sent into a frenzy with the non-waiver trade deadline fast approaching. For the Twins, this is extra special, because for the first time in four years, they are actually in a position to participate. However, in light of recent events around the AL Central, they absolutely must stay the course and exercise patience.
Over the weekend, the Kansas City Royals made the biggest move of the season. In sending a package highlighted by 2014 first round pick Brandon Finnegan, Kansas City added an ace to their staff in the form of Johnny Cueto. Having to watch struggles from the likes of Yordano Ventura, rely on Chris Young, and see Jason Vargas go down with a torn UCL, the Royals needed to make a move. In doing so, they went out and got the best pitcher available, while positioning themselves for a deep playoff run.
Despite being in the AL Central, and direct competition for the Twins, the Royals move to add Cueto couldn't be further removed from relevance in Minnesota. Prior to the weekend starting, Minnesota was still looking up at the boys in blue, trailing them in the division. Since the Twins relinquished the top of the AL Central early on in the summer, the Royals have held down the spot and separated from the competition.
There's little doubt that Cueto doesn't make the Royals a better team. He owns a 2.62 ERA and a career low 3.13 FIP. He is sitting down batters at an 8.3 K/9 clip while walking on average just 2 batters per nine innings. All of this was done with an outfield defense ranking 15th in the big leagues in DRS (defensive runs saved). Of course he makes the Royals better, but that also isn't the Twins concern.
Just as was the case before Kansas City dealt for the Reds case, the Twins weren't looking up. At this point in the season, if Minnesota is looking to capitalize on their impressive record, they will do so by fending off what's behind them. Currently with a hold on the second Wild Card spot, the Twins must stay the course.
Despite having dropped two of three to the Yankees this weekend, the AL East has given the Twins the least amount of problems this season. Leading the Blue Jays by 3 games, Baltimore by 3.5, and the Rays by 4, Minnesota is in a good place. the trade deadline should still be a place where the Twins need to buy, but their course of action should remain unchanged.
Whether or not Minnesota should go out and upgrade the catcher or shortstop position is something that can be debated, but relief arms are something the Twins still need to covet. Watching Steve Cishek go to the Cardinals for a price the Twins could have definitely paid, means they are more intrigued elsewhere. It's hard to imagine a scenario in which at least one arm doesn't come to Minnesota, but the big splashes aren't where the Twins need to focus.
This club has, and continues to, outperform expectations in 2015. Realizing the pieces to continue competing are they, and adding a couple more that help to solidify the Wild Card positioning should be the goal. Playoff baseball is a different beast, and it's anyone's guess as to what happens when it begins. Minnesota needs to add the pieces to stay in front of the race, and let what happens when they get there take place.
Terry Ryan has built a winner for years to come with the current organizational construction, and blowing that up to keep pace with those out of reach isn't going to do you any favors. Forget the Royals, light your own path, get some bullpen help, and grab the first playoff berth since 2010.